Author Archive | Good German

Is Fukushima Getting Worse?

Robert Hunziker writes at CounterPunch:

The Fukushima multiple nuclear disasters continue spewing out hot stuff like there’s no tomorrow. By all appearances, it is getting worse, out-of-control nuclear meltdowns.

On June 19th Tepco reported the highest-ever readings of strontium-90 outside of the Fukushima plant ports. The readings were 1,000,000 Bq/m3 of strontium-90 at two locations near water intakes for Reactors 3 and 4. Tepco has not been able to explain the spike up in readings. The prior highest readings were 700,000 Bq/m3. (Source here).

Photo: Abasaa (CC)

Photo: Abasaa (CC)

Strontium-90 is a byproduct of nuclear reactors or during the explosion of nuclear weapons, e.g., it is considered the most dangerous component of radioactive fallout from a nuclear weapon (Source: HyperPhysics, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, Georgia State University). It is a cancer-causing substance because it damages genetic material (DNA) in cells. Strontium-90 is not found in nature. It’s a byproduct of the nuclear world of today, e.g., strontium-90 was only recently discovered, as of August 2014, for the first time ever, by the Vermont Health Department in ground water at the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station (Source here).

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Can Pollution Help Trees Fight Infection?

Pollution may help trees fight infection. Credit: Frederic E. Pitre

Pollution may help trees fight infection.
Credit: Frederic E. Pitre

Via ScienceDaily:

Trees that can tolerate soil pollution are also better at defending themselves against pests and pathogens. “It looks like the very act of tolerating chemical pollution may give trees an advantage from biological invasion,” says Dr Frederic E. Pitre of the University of Montreal and one of the researchers behind the discovery.

Unexpectedly, whilst studying the presence of genetic information (RNA) from fungi and bacteria in the trees, the researchers found evidence of a very large amount of RNA from a very common plant pest called the two-spotted spidermite.

In fact, 99% of spidermite RNA was in higher abundance in trees without contamination, suggesting that the polluted plant’s defence mechanisms, used to protect itself against chemical contamination, improves its resistance to a biological invader.

“This higher spidermite gene expression (RNA) in non-contaminated trees suggests that tolerating contamination might ‘prime’ the trees’ defence machinery, allowing them to defend themselves better against pests, such as spidermites,” says Pitre.

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In Pursuit of Child Rights in Tanzania

Helen Veitch/Children Unite

Helen Veitch/Children Unite

Simon Hooper writes at Al Jazeera English:

“I was supposed to be the first one awake to get the children up and send them to school, and then take care of the household chores. And then I was the last one to bed at night.”

Angel Benedicto’s account of her daily routine as a household servant in Tanzania echoes the bleak experiences of exploited domestic workers in many parts of the world, but with one further dismal detail: Even as she was expected to care for the children of the family for whom she worked, Angel was still only a child herself.

Angel was brought up by her mother along with her eight younger brothers and sisters in a village in the northern Mara region. But when she was orphaned at the age of 16 she went to the city of Mwanza on the edge of Lake Victoria in search of a job to support her siblings and soon found work in a family home.

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The Hazards of Being a Man Who Writes About Men and Masculinity

Jed Diamond (Twitter photo)

Jed Diamond (Twitter photo)

Finally, something Feminists and MRA’s can agree on!  Jed Diamond, PhD, writes at the Good Men Project:

I’ve been writing about men and masculinity since my first book Inside Out: Becoming My Own Man was published in 1983. I was inspired to write about men and masculinity after reading Herb Goldberg’s book, The Hazards of Being Male: Surviving the Myth of Masculine Privilege. I still have my copy of Goldberg’s book with the picture of a masculine, muscled arm, with a broken red heart.

The inspiration for this article came from a discussion by authors who write for The Good Men Project about an article that appeared in the Guardian titled Matt Haig “Crucified” on Twitter for planning a book about masculinity. It isn’t always easy to write from the heart about matters of sex and gender. I hope Matt finds a way to express what is in his heart.

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Confronting Southern ‘Victimhood’

Robert Parry writes at Consortiumnews:

Unlike the Germans after World War II who collectively shouldered blame for the Holocaust and the war’s devastation, America’s white Southerners never confessed to the evil that they had committed by enslaving African-Americans and then pushing the United States into a bloody Civil War in their defense of human bondage.

american pride, southern stride

Photo: Erika dot net (CC)

Instead of a frank admission of guilt, there have been endless excuses and obfuscations. Confederate apologists insist that slavery wasn’t really all that bad for blacks, that the North’s hands weren’t clean either, that the Civil War was really just about differing interpretations of the Constitution, that white Southerners were the real victims here – from Sherman’s March to the Sea to Reconstruction. Some white Southerners still prefer to call the conflict “the war of Northern aggression.”

Indeed, Southern white “victimhood” has been at the heart of much bloodshed and suffering in the United States not only during the Civil War and the ensuing decades but through the modern era of the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s to the present bigoted hatred of the first African-American president and the coldblooded murders of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina.

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Magic and Politics

David Graeber writes at the Baffler:

Politicians are by definition dishonest. All politicians lie. But many observers of American politics agree that over the last few years, there has been something of a qualitative change in the magnitude of political dishonesty. In certain party precincts, at least, there seems to have been a conscious attempt to change the rules to allow for a level of flagrant, over-the-top lying about political opponents that we rarely see in other countries. Sarah Palin and her “death panels” pioneered the new style, but Michele Bachmann quickly took things to even more spectacular heights with her wild claims of government plots to impose sharia law on the United States or secret plans to abandon the dollar and replace it with the Chinese yuan. Mitt Romney didn’t top either Palin or Bachmann in the grandeur and magnificence of his lies, but he did try to make up for it in volume, having based his entire presidential campaign on an endless string of fabrications.

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Al-Jazeera Anchor Ahmed Mansour Released, Details of Torture Case Reemerge

Ahmed Mansour

Ahmed Mansour

These videos are allegedly of the torture with Mansour present. NSFW.

Hanad Fayed writes at the Cairo Post:

Despite Egyptian efforts to extradite Al-Jazeera journalist Ahmed Mansour from Germany to Egypt, he was released Monday from a German prison after two days of detention, Reuters reported the Berlin state prosecutor as saying.

“No one will be extradited from Germany if they face the death penalty,” Reuters quoted spokesperson for the Germany Foreign Ministry Martin Schaefer as saying earlier Monday.

“Egypt has launched a politically motivated campaign against Al-Jazeera and is now abusing the international system,” CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator Sherif Mansour said Sunday.

The Interpol previously rejected an Egyptian request to issue a red notice against Mansour in October 2014 because it did not meet the standards of the Interpol, according to Mansour’s lawyer.

British-Egyptian Al-Jazeera anchor Mansour was arrested Saturday in Berlin while heading to Qatar.

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Snowden Does a Product Endorsement

thierry ehrmann (CC by 2.0)

thierry ehrmann (CC by 2.0)

Bill Blunden writes at CounterPunch:

In the wake of Congress passing the USA Freedom Act Ed Snowden composed an editorial piece that appeared in the New York Times. There are aspects of this article that may surprise those who’ve followed events since Snowden first went public two years back.

For example, Ed referred to the bill as a “historic victory” though there are skeptics in the peanut gallery like your author who would call it theater. That is, an attempt to codify otherwise expired measures which have been of little use according to their stated purpose. The USA Freedom Act provides the opportunity for elected officials in Washington to do a victory lap and boast that they’ve implemented restructuring while former American spies, with a knowing wink, understand that what’s actually been instituted is “hardly major change.”

Moving onward through his laudatory communiqué, Ed warns that hi tech companies “are being pressured by governments around the world to work against their customers rather than for them.” He opted not to say who was being leaned on.

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Renewable Energy from Evaporating Water

Eva, the first evaporation-powered car, has a turbine engine that rotates as water evaporates from the wet paper lining the walls of the engine. Credit: Xi Chen, Columbia University

Eva, the first evaporation-powered car, has a turbine engine that rotates as water evaporates from the wet paper lining the walls of the engine.
Credit: Xi Chen, Columbia University

Columbia University Via ScienceDaily:

An immensely powerful yet invisible force pulls water from Earth to the top of the tallest redwood and delivers snow to the tops of the Himalayas. Yet despite the power of evaporating water, its potential to propel self-sufficient devices or produce electricity has remained largely untapped — until now.

In the June 16 online issue of Nature Communications, Columbia University scientists report the development of two novel devices that derive power directly from evaporation — a floating, piston-driven engine that generates electricity causing a light to flash, and a rotary engine that drives a miniature car.

When evaporation energy is scaled up, the researchers predict, it could one day produce electricity from giant floating power generators that sit on bays or reservoirs, or from huge rotating machines akin to wind turbines that sit above water, said Ozgur Sahin, Ph.D., an associate professor of biological sciences and physics at Columbia University and the paper’s lead author.

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Why ‘National Security’ Is a Fallacy

National_Security_Agency_headquarters,_Fort_Meade,_Maryland

Ian Sanjay Patel writes at Middle East Eye:

Despite the expiration of a Section of the US Patriot Act on 1 June, the ongoing influence and legacy of the Act continues to be felt around the world. Following 2001, dozens of countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe drafted counterterrorism laws in its image. As I write this, controversial new counterterrorism legislation – criticised for its arbitrary fault line between terrorism and political dissent – has been passed or is now being considered in Saudi Arabia, Kenya and the UK.

Deliberate vagueness

UK government guidance on its Counterterrorism and Security Act, which came into force in February this year, refers to “extremist organisations” and “extremist ideology” with a deliberate vagueness that is characteristic of the “war on terror”. The Act – without sufficiently defining terrorism and insinuating itself into a vast number of public spheres in the process – imposes a “prevent duty” on professionals working in schools, universities and the health care system to “prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”.

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